US 522 to Elkwallow Wayside: 20 miles
Elevation gain of 4,300 feet
- Over Thanksgiving weekend I was in Arlington Virginia with my parents visiting my brother and his wife. On Saturday we had the whole day to kill and with great weather forecast it made for the perfect opportunity to head to Shenandoah National Park with my dad and dog Mr. Smackers to do a long day hike on the Appalachian Trail.
- My father and brother back in 2000 spent the month of May hiking southbound on the A.T. starting in Harper's Ferry and still had the old guide books and maps. After looking over everything we decided I'd start hiking at the US-522 trailhead and head south into the park while my dad and Mr. Smackers would enter Skyline Drive when the gates opened and head to Elkwallow Wayside and start hiking north.
- On trail at 6:45am, ran into my dad and Smack-Face at 11am a few tenths of a mile from Gravel Springs Gap, finished at 1pm. Weather in the mid 30's to low 40's, wind gust around 20mph, very good visibility of 50 plus miles.
- I made good time....for the whole day! Unlike most of the hiking I'm used to on the A.T. in the White Mountains the trail in Shenandoah was very pleasant on my feet, reminding me of the Amphibranch below Mount Adams!
- There wasn't really much to see for the first 10 miles or so, the highlight was the Tom Floyd Wayside Hut which was the nicest lean-to I've ever come across.
- I ran into my dad and Mr. Smackers a little past the Gravel Springs Gap where they were taking a break. I fed Smack-Brains crab apples that I had picked up below Compton Peak.
- The best views of the day was from North Marshall Mountain and Hog back mountain from the "launching area" for hang gliders...now that I think of it the best views where from Skyline Drive while driving! There where outlooks every half mile or so along the drive which where great and probably be awesome during foliage.
- The hike was pretty fun, there wer not many people on the trail and I bet it'd be much better in the spring running into all the thru-hikers and chatting it up with them. Shenandoah National Park is pretty picturesque, very well maintained, and cool place with trails made for some serious speed hiking!
Skyline Drive and the Hogbacks
View of Browntown from Hogback